[Air-L] Pakistan to ban shutdown Facebook.com for 24hrs as a protest tonight at 12am!

Fouad Bajwa fouadbajwa at gmail.com
Wed May 19 04:58:28 PDT 2010

A Pakistani Court in Lahore has ordered ban on Facebook.com and the
nation's Internet users have mixed feelings with many appalled
resorting to numerous online debates and protests churning out a burst
on the Internet. Some Internet service providers have ended up
blocking the website completely.

* Note: Please read below the news and then the following comments
from my investigation into the Ban on the current situation of the

According to Al-jazeera:
A Pakistani court has issued a ban on the social networking site
Facebook after a user-generated contest page encourged members to post
caricatures of Prophet Mohammed.
The Lahore High Court on Wednesday instructed the Pakistani
Telecommunications Authority (PTA) to ban the site after the Islamic
Lawyers Movement complained that a page called “Draw Mohammed Day” is
blasphemous. Sajjad Chaudhry, the presiding judge, instructed
officials with the ministry of telecommunications to submit a written
reply to the ban by May 31 when courts will open a detailed hearing on
the case. A ban is to be enforced in the meantime. "We have already
blocked the URL link and issued instruction to internet service
providers,” Khurram Mehran, a spokesperson for the PTA, said. About 20
people carried banners outside of courthouse in Lahore, condemning
Facebook and praising Prophet Mohammed. Protest: Lawyers also
petitioned the Pakistani government to register a strong protest with
Facebook’s owners. "The competition has hurt the sentiments of the
Muslims," lawyer Chaudhry Zulfikar Ali said. Facebook users in
Pakistan, however, told AFP they could still access the site after the
ban was imposed on Wednesday. Officials with the Pakistani government
told the court they had already blocked Facebook pages relating to the
competition, but the lawyers group argued that no part of a site can
be banned unless the entire site is blocked. Pakistan has 45 million
Facebook users, according to lawyers. The Facebook page for "Everybody
Draw Mohammed Day" had just over 40,000 supporters while the opposing
"Against Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" had more than 53,000.

According to the National Daily Times of Pakistan Reports:
LHC issues notice to PTA on plea to ban Facebook
LAHORE: Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court on
Tuesday issued notice to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority
secretary to reply until Wednesday (today), on a petition seeking a
ban on Facebook, which is holding a competition of caricatures of
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Islamic Lawyers Movement filed the petition
through Chaudhry Zulfiqar advocate, who stated that a competition was
announced on Facebook on April 20 which would continue until May 20,
asking all the members of the website to create their caricatures to
participate in the competition. Zulfiqar said under the law no
practice against Islam could be allowed in the country. He told the
court that the website, having various features against the
injunctions of Islam, is banned in various countries. Zulfiqar
submitted that there were 45 million users of Facebook in Pakistan,
adding that the PTA was responsible for its spread in Pakistan. He
said the PTA has already blocked various websites in the country but
was reluctant to ban Facebook. He said students and various segments
of the society have already started protests in the country, which
could be harmful for the public property. He requested the court to
issue directions to PTA to put an immediate ban on the use of Facebook
in the Pakistan. staff report

According to Daily DAWN Newspaper Staff Reporter on Wednesday, 19 May, 2010:
http://wwwLAHORE, May 18: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday issued
notice to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on a petition
seeking ban on Facebook, an international social networking website,
in the country for holding a blasphemous competition of drawing
caricatures of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).  Justice Ijaz Ahmed
Chaudhry issued notice for Wednesday (today) on the petition filed by
Ch Zulfikar advocate of Islamic Lawyers Forum. The petitioner-lawyer
submitted that on the Facebook a competition was announced on April 20
last, which would continue till May 20.  He said in the competition
the members of the website were invited to draw caricatures of the
Holy Prophet. He said Article 2-A of the Constitution restricted any
practice against the religion in the country. He said the website
having various features against the injunctions of Islam had already
been banned in various Islamic countries. He pointed out that China,
United Arab Emirates, Iran and Saudi Arabia had already imposed a ban
on the website. The lawyer said the PTA had already blocked various
blasphemous and contemptuous websites in the country but was reluctant
to ban Facebook.
He sought directions for PTA to put an immediate ban on the use of
Facebook in Pakistan.

Mixed reactions are being generated from all corners of the country by
Internet users and stakeholders. To name a few groups to read and
- ProPakistani (292 Comments):
- ProPakistani Draw Day: Why Facebook is Culprit and How Best to
React? http://propakistani.pk/2010/05/19/blasphemy-why-facebook-is-culprit-and-how-best-to-react/
- Telecom Grid Pakistan: http://groups.google.com/group/telecom-grid-pakistan
- Society Against Internet Censorship in Pakistan:
- Blogger News Network: http://www.bloggernews.net/124575

I have been probing into the matter and from what I have gathered
until now that the Secretary IT and PTA have instructed the PIE to
shut down Facebook.com for 24 hours as a national protest from
Pakistan. Facebook.com will be inaccessible starting tonight 12am for
24 hours. Facebook.com remains to be the 3rd most accessed website
from Pakistan according to Alexa URL:
http://www.alexa.com/topsites/countries/PK and the total number of
users of Facebook.com from Pakistan stand at: 2,359,620 which is 0.51%
of Facebook.com's percentage of Global Audience according to Check
Facebook URL: http://www.checkfacebook.com.

With a major level of communications by Pakistani's happening on
Facebook, it cannot be shut down permanently and I am sure the govt is
well aware of those implications that will be triggered as a result of
it. BBC also reports a temporary Facebook shut down URL:

Though this whole matter may turn into an international violation of
freedom of expression etc, the authorities may feel that this sudden
jolt might show their protest to be substantial which again stands
questionable by the majority of Facebook users from Pakistan. Let's
see what happens and what is the impact of this ban on the Pakistani
Facebook.com users.

Monitoring the Facebook.com Pakistan Issue Closely:

Fouad Bajwa
Internet Governance Advisor

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